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Two die in separate falls in Sequoia National Park

A man died after falling while climbing Mt. Whitney on Friday. The next day, a woman died after falling into the Kaweah River in Sequoia National Park.
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Two people died after falling in separate incidents in Sequoia National Park over the weekend, according to the National Park Service.

On Friday afternoon, a group of climbers was descending the eastern slope of Mt. Whitney when they passed a man who was climbing alone up the Mountaineer’s Route. The route — like the more commonly used trail to the 14,494-foot peak — starts at Whitney Portal, “but it is far more challenging,” the Park Service said in a statement.

Sometime later, the group saw a backpack fall and realized the man must have fallen.

Once they got cell reception, the group reported the incident to the Inyo County Sheriff’s Office. It was too dark for investigators to do an aerial search that night, but early Saturday morning, searchers in a sheriff’s helicopter spotted the man’s body after about four hours, according to the Park Service.

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The man had been traversing the north face of Mt. Whitney, where there was snow and ice present, when he fell, authorities said. The National Park Service was working to retrieve the man’s body Sunday morning.

On Saturday morning, a 21-year-old Tulare woman died after falling into the Kaweah River.

She and three friends were near the river’s Middle Fork area, near the Hospital Rock Picnic Area. The woman fell into the river and was swept away, according to the Park Service.

Farther downstream, a park visitor from Connecticut got the woman to shore and unsuccessfully administered CPR in an area upstream from the Potwisha Campground, about two miles away.

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In a statement, U.S. Park Ranger Chris Waldschmidt said the parks’ rivers are “an extremely dangerous place to recreate.”

“Due to the record level snowpack the rivers with their fast cold water continue to rise,” he said. “Please give these environments the respect they deserve for your own personal safety.”

hailey.branson@latimes.com

Twitter: @haileybranson

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